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Burke: Campaign’s focus won’t be gender; Looking at porn on school computer should be firing offense, says board; More state news

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New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

So far at least, Mary Burke has not tried to capitalize on an apparent lag in female support for the man she hopes to replace next year, Gov. Scott Walker.

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Burke -- the former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive -- told the Associated Press she does not believe her campaign will focus on gender. However, she'd love to blaze the trail to become Wisconsin's first female governor.

A Marquette Law School poll last July shows that 52% of women disapproved of Walker's job performance, while just 39%of men disapproved. Among men, 54% gave Walker a favorable job rating and 43% of women gave him a favorable rating.

State Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is still deciding whether to run against Burke in a primary next August. Vinehout said health care and education will be major issues in the Walker race -- and female candidates are in a better position to attack Walker on those subjects.

“The tone of the state would change if we had a woman governor,” Vinehout told the AP.

Marquette pollster Charles Franklin said Walker's campaign needs to determine how to get more women on his side.

Jonathan Wetzel of the Walker camp says the governor's record appeals to all voters with “lower taxes, more jobs and real reform” that Democrats would not be able to match.

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Looking at porn on school computer should be firing offense, says board

The Middleton-Cross Plains School Board has asked the State Supreme Court to consider firing a teacher for looking at pornography on school computers.

The school district wants the court to overturn an arbitrator's ruling that gave Andrew Harris his job back and reduced suspensions for two other teachers. Their union filed a grievance on behalf of seven school employees accused of viewing or sharing porn or sexually inappropriate jokes, images and videos.

Harris, a middle school science teacher, lost his job while the others got suspensions or reprimands. School officials said the content Harris downloaded was more inappropriate than what the others called up.

So far, the case has cost around $600,000 for taxpayers in the Middleton-Cross Plains district, which is located west of Madison.

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Orthodox pastor suspected of embezzling $200,000

A prosecutor is deciding whether to file criminal charges against a former longtime Greek Orthodox pastor in Milwaukee.

Annunciation Church members were updated at Sunday’s service about the Rev. James Dokos. He's suspected of taking $200,000 in trust funds for his own use.

Dokos was the church's leader for about 20 years until he moved to suburban Chicago. He's now serving at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Glenview, Ill.

The Orthodox bishop in Chicago ruled in August that Dokos did not do anything wrong. An attorney for the parish council at the Milwaukee church said his group was not planning to seek criminal charges, but eventually they decided they had no choice.

Assistant District Attorney David Feiss is trying to determine if Dokos misused part of a trust of more than $1 million left to the church in 2008 by Ervin and Margaret Franszak.

Attorney Emmanuel Mamalakis told the congregation that questions about the trust first arose in February, when the church received a nearly $200 check to reimburse Dokos for a health insurance premium. Dokos had already left for Glenview by then. Mamalkis said the parish council investigated the matter for six months before going to the DA.

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Milwaukee sex offenders arrested for Halloween violations

Just over a dozen sex offenders were arrested in Milwaukee County over the weekend for inviting kids to their homes for trick or treating.

The Sheriff's Department in Wisconsin's most populated county was on the prowl along with the ghosts and goblins. Officers checked on 200 sex offenders to make sure they did not have porch lights on or have Halloween decorations or candy in sight of their doors or windows.

One Milwaukee resident told WISN TV she didn't know she lived near a sex offender until he was hauled away Sunday.

The state Department of Justice said officers would be checking statewide to make sure that sex offenders follow the rules for Halloween. Many communities still allow trick or treating on the actual night, which is Thursday.

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Bill would make employers keep pregnant women working longer

If a state Democrat has his way, Wisconsin employers would no longer force pregnant women to take unpaid leaves.

Freshman Representative Eric Genrich of Green Bay said the current laws allow employers to send pregnant women home if problems develop which make it hard for them to perform their normal duties.

The Genrich bill would force employers to create new considerations for keeping pregnant women on the job longer -- with things like for breaks during the day and letting them sit on stools and carry water. The bill does provide an exemption in cases where it's an “undue hardship” for employers to keep certain women at work.

The current law makes it illegal for bosses to discriminate against their pregnant workers.

Genrich says it's not acceptable just to tell women to come back when they're not pregnant. He hopes the measure would provide clarity for both employers and their workers.

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Baldwin asks for help for farmer as Farm Bill smolders

Wisconsin's Democratic U.S. senator is asking that the safety net for dairy farmers be brought back until a new program can take effect.

Tammy Baldwin and Minnesota Democrats Al Franken and Ben Cardin are among 13 senators who have asked a conference committee on the new Farm Bill to extend the Milk Income Loss Contract program.

Family farm states like Wisconsin are among the biggest users of the MILC program, which expired Sept. 30 when the last farm bill ended. The long-running MILC program provides federal subsidies to dairy farmers when their market prices drop below certain levels.

The Senate's version of the new five-year package of farm programs includes an immediate extension of the program until a new one can begin. The House bill does not have such an extension.

The 13 senators say dairy farmers have no safety net right now, and even if a new Farm Bill passes soon, it could be months before a new dairy program begins.

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Senators want mental health services for sexual assault victims

More of Wisconsin's sexual assault and human trafficking victims could get state-funded mental health services under a new bill sought by Democrats.

Stevens Point Senator Julie Lassa and Assembly freshmen Mandy Wright of Wausau and Evan Goyke of Milwaukee are asking colleagues to sign onto the measure.

The bill would extend the time limit for victims to report sex assault or trafficking crimes to the police. That limit is now five days, and the ability to receive mental health service funding expires after a year.

The funding comes from the state Crime Victim's Compensation Fund. Wright says it should cover the entire six years that a statute of limitations now covers for the sex crimes.

She says many victims don't come to grips with their victimization until later in life, and they should remain eligible for help if they need it. Wright says lawmakers of both parties show growing support for her measure, and the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Network endorses it.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

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Fort McCoy hunters warned to watch for unexploded bombs

Persons who hunt at Fort McCoy this fall will have to watch out for things that hunters elsewhere never worry about -- unexploded bombs.

Fort Safety Manager Randy Eddy said people often find unexploded ordnance that's been buried for years. It rises to the surface every spring, during construction or at times when the ground is soft.

Eddy said hunters who spot unexploded bombs should leave them alone, leave the area, mark the spot if possible and report the ordnance to Fort McCoy's Public Safety Center.

The fort covers a large amount of woodlands between Sparta and Tomah.

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No trace found of woman missing for over two weeks

Investigators spent the weekend rustling through garbage at a landfill, looking for any trace of a Milwaukee woman missing for 2 1/2 weeks.

Kelly Dwyer, 27, was last seen Oct. 10.

Her boyfriend -- who was reportedly the last to see Dwyer before she vanished -- has since been arrested twice for maintaining an illegal drug house and possessing child pornography. Kris Zocco, 38, is due in court today for a preliminary hearing on three drug charges.

Police say they're continuing to investigate Dwyer's disappearance so they're not saying much about the weekend at a landfill in suburban Menomonee Falls. Milwaukee Lt. Mark Stanmeyer said no evidence was found on Saturday, and a search was continuing yesterday.

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Bill would exempt firms from sales tax on airplane maintenance

Wisconsin firms would no longer have to pay sales tax on aircraft maintenance under a bill that's up for a committee vote tomorrow.

The state Senate's Economic Development and Local Government Committee will decide whether to endorse a tax break for aviation firms like Gulfstream of Appleton and Cessna of Milwaukee.

Neenah Republican Mike Ellis says those firms are at a competitive disadvantage because aircraft owners are getting their planes fixed in other states where a sales tax is not charged.

Other taxpayers would have to make up a $3 million loss in revenue, but Ellis said his bill would generate almost twice as much in higher business for the aviation firms.

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Rock group: Performing with Reed was like hanging with the Beatles

A Milwaukee rock group has personal memories of Lou Reed.

The former Velvet Underground songwriter and guitarist from the 1960's and 1970's died yesterday from complications of a liver transplant.

The 71-year-old Reed had a heavy influence on rock bands, including Milwaukee's Violent Femmes. They toured with Reed in Germany, Australia and Spain since the early 1990's.

Violent Femmes bass player Brian Ritchie said the Velvet Underground were the ones that “made rock and roll intelligent,” and Reed was a “heroic figure.” Ritchie said Reed was a true artist who did what he wanted, regardless of the impact or what people thought.

Ritchie said he first met Lou Reed in 1988 in Rome where the star was doing media interviews. Ritchie said Reed was always known as a curmudgeon, but he was very supportive of the Milwaukee group.

Ritchie and Milwaukeean Victor DeLorenzo collaborated with Reed on a 1991 solo album from Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker called “I Spent a Week There the Other Night.” Ritchie said he and DeLorenzo marveled at performing with two Velvet Underground members.

"For us," Ritchie said, "It was like hanging out with the Beatles."

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